Having sort of followed A Prairie Home Companion and the dreadful and frankly disgusting behaviour of Garrison Keillor, the very long time host and creator of APHC before Chris Thile, Americana musician par excellence, took over. I listened to him in the early months of his hosting but it didn’t impress me as it felt too much that Kellior was haunting it from offstage.
Along came the rapid and quite permanent fall from grace by Kellior which liberated Minnesota Public Radio to jettison everything related to the APHC show as Kellior owned everything related to the show including the increasingly lame Lake Woebegon framing.
So I’ve got the show for tonight, the 27th Of January 2017, playing live from Austin, Texas as I write this appreciation of the show.
I’ll tell you right now that if like great music mostly of Roots music in the Americana vein, you’ll love this show as it now very much reflects late Thirties in age host Thile who is a Portland, Oregon resident and a mandolinist, singer, songwriter, composer, and now radio personality, best known for his work in Nickel Creek and the Punch Brothers. He also had a sterling solo career and we reviewed his Not All Who Wander Are Lost which is qutterly good.
He’s also played with the likes of Yo-Yo Ma, fellow mandolinist Mike Marshall, Edgar Meyer and Stuart Duncan to name but a few. He’s so good that he won a MacArthur Fellowship! So that shouldn’t surprise you that this show as envisioned by Thile is intensely musical and Live from Here is not in any way even vaguely like Kellior’s APHC which is A Very Good Thing.
Where Kellior was the sedate, downbeat host who wanted you to be part of the Lake Woebegon,community, Thile is more than a bit manic, bouncing around in delight apparently as he gets to interact with musicians and other folk who he obviously admires a lot. APHC put me to sleep, LFH is definitely designed to keep me actively listeninh.
Shovel & Rope, a really good Americana couple, is doing a bluesy travel song as I listen this moment. (By now I’d usually have decided to turn Kellior off.) Some minutes later, Gabby Moreno is playing a very lively (I think) a Tex-Mex song. Need I say Thile is really excited like her being on Live from Here?
Even the comic bits are rooted in American music, not a mythical place as APHC was. There’s a riff on hip hop music by ageing New Age hippies of the manner that you’d find shilling acoustic music collections on late night television on some really obscure channel with ‘an aversion to rhythm’ and who like ‘breathy acoustic songs’.
I’m an hour in and still not even close to tuning out though the comedy riff just now was meh but I’m not a fan of most such comedy anyways. That segued into a very nice and quite tasty bit of jazzy music by Snarky Puppy which is enhanced by the production team cleverly positioning mics in the audience which is more than a bit raucous all show long which they really demonstrate when Chris musically deconstructs ‘I’ll Be There’ in words and music.
Thile”s now playing with them, and a very fine vocalist he is, and notes that he just played with them at Carnegie Hall!
Ok, I could go on but I don’t need to. Find your local public broadcasting station at six on a Saturday night and settle in for a good time. You can find Live from Home here with full shows to listen to.